In the early 1960s, the only cereal I ate was Post.
The taste had nothing to do with what advertisers would now call brand loyalty.
While my mother went from aisle to aisle in the grocery store in Thibodaux, I went box by box through the cereal shelf.
Whether my breakfast fare would be Toasties or another Post product depended on the baseball cards on the back of the boxes.
Of course, I had to eat whatever I picked out or there would be trouble. My mom would impose her cereal choice during our next trip to the grocery even though she knew absolutely nothing about baseball.
Sometimes, if players I had been seeking showed up on the backs of different boxes, I tried to convince her to buy more than one. Those pleas failed even though I assured her that cereal keeps well.
My attempts to cut up the new boxes as soon as we got home fared just as poorly even though I pointed out that we had bags that could hold cereal.
Once the box had been emptied and the cards cut carefully from the back, they went with me to school the next day. The trading began.
I learned that not being able to find a needed Pittsburgh Pirate on one of the store’s boxes wasn’t catastrophic.
If I picked up a player in pinstripes, I could swing a deal with Ray or one of the other Yankee fans.
If Rocky Colavito, Norm Cash or Al Kaline appeared on a box, they would induce a trade with Rodney.
I had most of the 1960 Pirates, but I wasn’t immune to picking up a Willie Mays, Ernie Banks or Stan the Man.
I discovered that baseball cards also sold at the five and dime, but for them, I had to come up with my own money. Mom didn’t consider bubble gum one of the main food groups.
Actually, I didn’t care much for the bubble gum in the packs, except that it gave the cards a great smell.
Post remained the staple breakfast and source of cards, for my friends and me.
When I was 11 or 12 and our collections had started to grow, I made a table-top baseball game that we played using dice and the statistics on the cards.
We played it until discovering the wonders of the APBA baseball game in a sports magazine. The arrival late on a Christmas Eve of that game, which I believe cost my parents an outrageous $12.95, ended the use of my invention.
Still, our baseball cards remained cherished collections.
Unfortunately I made the mistake of leaving mine at home when I went away to college. During a cleaning of my room, my mother gave them to a neighbor boy. She never understood the importance of what those cereal boxes yielded.
Some of my cards would be valuable today, but that wouldn’t matter. If I still had them, they wouldn’t be for sale.
Advocate Florida Parishes bureau chief Bob Anderson welcomes comments by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.